Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher is a story told by Logan Witherspoon, a high school senior in small-town Missouri. He is upset about – and borderline obsessed with – the recent breakup with his ex-girlfriend, Brenda. Then Sage Hendricks moves into town and changes his world: she is tall, vivacious and beautiful in her own quirky way. Sage and Logan hit it off immediately, but she is not allowed to see him outside of school, and sometimes she reacts strangely to his touch. Sage is obviously keeping a secret from him. They finally kiss, and Sage reveals the truth: she was born a boy. Logan reacts with anger, and treats Sage badly for weeks. He is confused: if he was (and still is) attracted to a male, does that make him gay? Does anyone else know that Sage is really a boy? Logan eventually realizes that Sage desperately needs a good friend, so he decides to reach out to her and rekindle their friendship. He cannot help but see Sage as a girl, and he finds himself falling in love with her. Almost Perfect is an honest exploration of an uncommon relationship and a topic that is seldom discussed.
Throughout the course of the novel, very few characters know that Sage was born a boy, and they have a variety of reactions. Logan is angry, and later finds himself cycling through feelings of love, disgust, and fear.
Why couldn’t she just be a real girl? Our lives would be great. She was so close to the real thing. But close didn’t count. (p. 285)
Sage’s parents are permissive, but not supportive: they only allow her to live as a female because of a suicide attempt. They forced her to be homeschooled for several years and moved to another town so that no one would find out her secret. Sage’s sister Tammi is loving and very protective, but she feels guilty for encouraging Sage to become a girl: Tammi knows how much easier Sage’s life would be as a normal boy. Logan’s sister is immediately accepting: she thinks Sage is a wonderful person, and could not care less that Sage was born male. An unnamed college student has an unfortunately violent reaction: Sage is badly beaten and left for dead. Will this incident convince Sage to go back to being a boy?
Katcher, B. (2009). Almost Perfect. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers.